As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station.
We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that you may have missed.
What can a plant have in common with a marine fishery? This research is the first to show that a non-timber forest product can have a backward-bending supply curve.
When longleaf pine seedlings are so short that a prescribed fire is likely to scorch all of their needles, fire should be applied between March and May, so the young trees will have time to recover before winter.
The Southeast is home to more freshwater crayfish species than anywhere else in the world, but discovering two new southeastern crayfish species — while searching for just one — is remarkable. The research also helps us understand the size of a species’ range, a fundamental part of conservation work.
The guide synthesizes years of research to provide best practices for controlling hemlock woolly adelgids. The strategy is to prolong the health of some hemlock trees with insecticides, while, on other trees, establishing adelgid-eating insects.
It is now possible to detect emerald ash borers early, while an infested ash tree is still alive. Electronic noses have revolutionized the field of pathology, and SRS is on the forefront of applying this technology to forests and forest pests.
Black locust makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. However, this field study suggests that drought diminishes black locust’s ability to fix nitrogen.
A study on a silviculture practice called femelschlag is one of the first of its kind, and over 700 white oak seedlings were recently planted on the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina.
Tree planters, seed orchard managers, silviculturists, and geneticists are working together to make longleaf and shortleaf pine restoration possible.
Managing the border between swamps and pine flatwoods is critical – during extreme fire weather, these shallow hardwood-cypress swamps can ignite and release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
Millions of acres in the South are owned by multiple heirs, which makes it difficult to manage forests effectively and puts owners – who are often Black – at higher risk of losing their land. SRS research is helping address this problem while promoting sustainable forestry on African American family lands.
Here are a few more articles that you might have missed – from water supply to managing forests with prescribed fire or for drought resilience.
- Water Supply from Southern State and Private Forest Lands. Report and Story Maps provide land and resource managers with up-to-date information about the role of forest lands as water providers for people in the South.
- Wetland Silviculture & Water Tables. A science synthesis about water tables, long-term water table changes, and effects of silvicultural practices like ditching.
- Managing Drought in Forest Ecosystems. A resource to help land managers anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from drought.
- Using Prescribed Fire to Restore and Sustain Oak Ecosystems. Current science about the long-term impacts of using prescribed fire to manage oak forests and woodlands.
- Very Crafty Caterpillars. How native caterpillars survive to become very necessary pollinators.
SRS scientists work with and for many partners, including the National Forest System. And they work in many fields – silviculture, hydrology, climate science, wildlife biology, economics, ecology, and more. The range of featured stories is a testament to this expansive focus.
Over the past fiscal year, SRS researchers have published more than 500 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and reports. All of these publications are freely available.
CompassLive has existed as an online science magazine since 2012. It was founded in 2001 as a print magazine called Compass. Read more and subscribe!